COMPETITION Commission of Pakistan (CCP) opposed the Punjab government sugar ex-mill and retail price fixation decision of Rs.80 and 85 per kilogram, respectively and termed that this stopgap measure of ‘fixing price’ can at best provide temporary relief to cap the excessive price increase.
However, this measure fails to benefit the sector or the economy at large.
The short-term benefit of fixing prices (if any) does not justify the long-term loss caused by such policies, the CCP stated in a policy note ‘fixing of maximum retail price of sugar by the government of Punjab’.
The stepping in of the CCP into the issue has given a new twist to the situation created by the sugar mafia, which is not allowing to succeed efforts being made by the Government to check undue increase in prices of the commodity.
The views expressed by the CCP carry weight as price fixation is contrary to the principle of market competition.
However, in a country like Pakistan there is no other option to safeguard the interests of the citizens when traders and businessmen indulge in unfair and exploitative tactics to manipulate prices to their favour.
There is absolutely no justification for raising the price of sugar from Rs. 56 a kilogram to Rs. 110 or 120 a kilo and that too when the farmer is not getting additional benefit.
There are also frequent complaints that farmers are not paid even the minimum support price and the entire profit margin is pocketed by the industrialist.
The Sugar Commission came to the conclusion that the industry behaved like a mafia and with this in view it was fundamental responsibility of the CCP to take due cognizance of the unfair practices of the industry and suggest a concrete plan of action to the Government.
There are reasons to believe that relevant bodies and authorities did not act timely and as a result consumers are suffering at the hands of those whose greed has no limits.